Orono artist Chez Cherry scrawled “Coast Rocks” across a container of gray paint. Brick red was labeled “Paul Bunyan” and “Quoddy Lighthouse.” Brown was “Log Truck,” “Moose” and “Christina’s World.” With 90 colors that correspond with Maine landmarks, symbols and legends, Cherry’s 1,000-square-foot painting might be the largest indoor mural in the state, he said, and it will be unveiled Saturday, June 11, at Bangor’s new children’s play place and healthful food eatery, The Maine Jump, at 312 Hogan Rd.
A Maine map to the left of the mural displays a trail to all the places depicted in the mural, from left to right.
“The kids can go through it if they want — get photos with the moose,” said Cherry as he sat surveying his work last week, his paint-splattered pants evidence of the many vibrant hues he mixed from a few basic colors.
Starting in southern Maine on the far left, the mural moves to Cushing, the setting for the Andrew Wyeth painting “Christina’s World.” Cherry then takes viewers to the Capitol building in Augusta, then northwest, to popular Maine ski destination Sugarloaf Mountain. The trail snakes farther north to Mount Katahdin, logging country and Fort Kent, home of the World Cup Biathlon.
At that point, the trail takes a U-turn and heads down to the University of Maine in Orono and the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge linking Bangor and Brewer.
“There’s an open invitation for Stephen King to come here and have his picture taken in front of his house,” said Cherry, pointing at the painted bats adorning the famous author’s front gate.
Paul Bunyan kicks the trail out to the rocky coast, and the mural ends on the far right of the 100-foot-long wall with a lobster fisherman’s copper-toned face and a whale leaping out of the ocean.
The Maine Jump will open its doors on June 11 for its first birthday party after only a few months of planning, though the owner, John Dobbs, has been talking to members of the community about the idea of a healthful place for children for a while.
“The reaction was always, ‘That’s a great idea.’” Dobbs said. “There’s nothing like this in Bangor.”
The majority of The Maine Jump will be a playground, including a 15-foot-high bounce slide, a 40-foot-long dual obstacle course, an enclosed inflatable bounce castle and a jousting arena for children to thwack one another with soft pugil sticks.
Parents and guardians can sip Rock City Coffee (of Rockland) while keeping an eye on their children over the half-wall enclosing the adult area, which has Wi-Fi access and worktables.
“I’m very excited about kids having a fun, safe place to come and play,” said Kiely Webb, manager of The Maine Jump. “It’s always cold here [in Maine], and no one can depend on the weather. I hope this place is here for years. I just can’t wait to see the kids’ faces when they walk through the door.”
Enclosed by a white picket fence is a picnic area where children can enjoy a gluten-free menu that includes pizza, cupcakes and sandwiches. Juice and teas replace the usual sodas on the beverage menu.
Dobbs’ goal: “To open a place without junk food.”
On top of good eating habits, he hopes to reinforce good manners, which he already does at his Irish pub, Paddy Murphy’s, in downtown Bangor. Guidelines for behavior will be on display.
“Manners win the day,” he said. “You aren’t going to come in here and be rude. It’s not a corporate chain. Out of the gate, there’s that expectation. And you can’t just drop off your kids.”
The mural, which spans the entire back wall of the spacious building, is an expression of how much Dobbs loves Maine and his desire to educate children about the state rather than have jungle animals or typical playground images displayed on the walls.
Dobbs calls Cherry a “diamond in the rough.” A four-time Emmy Award nominee, Cherry is originally from London where he attended Manchester University for theater design. In the ’80s, he worked as a scenic artist in California, and in the ’90s, he worked on various Hollywood television sets and received Emmy nominations for the set design of the HBO series “Tracy Takes On …”
In the 10 years that Cherry has lived in Maine, he has created set designs for theater, painted murals for the Maine Discovery Museum, Penobscot Marine Museum and Bangor Historical Society, and designed the interior of downtown Bangor’s Paddy Murphy’s Pub and Giacomo’s, among other things.
“I hope people will come maybe just to see the mural,” Cherry said. “It’s an added attraction obviously, but the kids might have fun with it.”
Cherry painted the changing scene in shapes of color without blending hues, a style inspired by 1930s travel posters. He used Adobe Photoshop on his laptop to painstakingly trace photos, judging how detailed to make each drawing. The intricate logging truck, his favorite image, took him days to trace and tweak.
He moved the scene from his computer to the wall with a DVD projector and traced it onto the wall with a pencil. It took 10 projections and an entire week to transfer the scene onto the wall, then several additional weeks for him and his assistant, Heidi Osterhout, to paint it in.
Though the black bear, moose and chickadee made it into the painting, Cherry skipped over the bald eagle soaring near the ceiling. It was an easy fix, only a matter of projecting the eagle and mixing some Benjamin Moore Aura paint into a few new colors, making sure to write “Eagle” on the lid.
The Maine Jump, located at 312 Hogan Road., will be open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. For information, call 947-2228 or visit the Facebook page at www.hs.facebook.com/themainejump. To see more of Cherry’s work, visit chezcherry-interiordesign.blogspot.com/.